Higher Education Needs to Focus on Re-Recruitment. Here Are 5 Methods to Consider.

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Consider the following scenario: You’re a business-to-consumer company marketing your product in an extremely competitive field. But once your customers have made a purchase from you, you stop marketing to them. This is all but unheard of in the B2C marketing world, but it’s an all-too-common practice in higher education. Institutions expend countless resources recruiting new students, but don’t put nearly the same energy in re-recruiting their current students. Given that dropout rates are holding steady and that this year’s FAFSA fiasco will have an enormous and negative impact on enrollment, it may be time for institutions to prioritize re-recruitment.

To some, the term has an alternative meaning. It was common in 2019, when the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) changed its code of ethics and allowed institutions to more aggressively market to potential transfer students. In the case that we’ll be outlining, however, the term refers to a strategy for institutions to market to current students with messaging that reinforces the idea that their institution is the right fit.

Jenzabar’s Vice President for Enrollment Marketing and Co-Founder of Spark451, Steve Kerge, outlined 5 re-recruitment tactics institutions should be doing right now to ensure their current students return to campus in the fall.

1. Identify and Engage With Parents of Continuing Students

We tend to draw a lot of lines between students and parents in higher education, but many parents remain critically invested in their child’s education. The more connected a parent feels to an institution, the more they champion that institution to their child.

Kerge advises mapping out touchpoints around critical enrollment timelines then sending texts and emails highlighting key events and successes throughout the years. Institutions can also invite parents onto campus for occasions other than Parents’ Weekend, such as sporting events or speaker series.

2. Extend Benefits to Families of Enrolled Students

Think about all the companies offering friend and family discounts. This is a great way to build brand alliance and is a tactic that higher education should consider. What benefits can you offer student families that will help solidify your brand? In many cases, institutions offer students deals on software or discounts to local restaurants and shops. Can these be extended to families as well?

Institutions should identify the benefits that draw parents onto campus and use them. Can families also access the school’s library? What about gym nights, parent/child yoga classes, or even discounted dining hall days? Offering these opportunities to extended family members can help an institution build brand equity with audiences beyond their students.

3. Lean Into Social Channels

Kerge recommends institutions harness social media channels and ensure that current students and influencers are on those channels. It’s common practice during admissions season for prospective students and parents to join a school’s admissions groups, but what about current students and parents?

Institutions should promote their brand to current students on social media. Find out where students and parents spend their time and invest resources into creating posts, videos, and other messages that resonate with students and highlight your institution’s brand. Keep in mind, too, that your students are probably creating their own social media groups and channels. These are as impactful in promoting school culture as anything official from your school.

4. Perform Regular Surveys

At least once a semester, survey continuing students as well as their parents to gain insights into what they feel is important, what the school is doing particularly well, and what areas could use improvement. Student and parent attitudes can change year to year, even semester to semester, and identifying successes and issues can help institutions address them quickly. If both students and parents know that they have a voice on your campus and that their voice is making a difference, the chances of retaining them increase.

5. Keep an Eye Out for Behavioral Cues

Watch for signs and symptoms that a student is disengaging from the institution and create a plan of proactive engagement. There are several ways to do this. Keep an eye on specific transfer-signaling behaviors like drops in meal plan utilization (food can be a huge motivator for students) or transcript requests. Also keep a close watch on stop-out or drop-out behaviors. Retention systems like Jenzabar Retention create student profiles and possess predictive modeling and early alert systems that allow you to identify struggling students quickly and implement counteractive measures.

Don't Wait to Start Re-Recruiting

While some of these strategies might take a bit of time to set up, not all of them do. Start communicating, start reaching out on social channels, and start thinking about what sort of events you can host between now and the end of spring semester that will heighten your brand and better connect students and families to your institution.

Keep in mind too, that these are only a few strategies you can employ. If you’re looking for more detailed marketing strategies, reach out to Spark451, a Jenzabar company.

Higher Education Needs to Focus on Re-Recruitment. Here Are 5 Methods to Consider.

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